For the second time, the XFL is a failure. For the second year in a row, a Spring league has died a premature death. Each demise came about in isolation, for its own reasons. Truth be told, it’s still unknown as to whether or not it is a salvable idea that could actually produce a sustainable alternative league.
But at least we now know that the XFL, in its current incarnation, will not be the next to attempt it again, as Vince McMahon’s brainchild filed for bankruptcy yesterday, after being forced to cut its inaugural season short amid the Covid-19 pandemic that took the nation by surprise.
“The XFL quickly captured the hearts and imaginations of millions of people who love football. Unfortunately, as a new enterprise, we were not insulated from the harsh economic impacts and uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 crisis”, a statement read.
“Accordingly, we have filed a voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. This is a heartbreaking time for many, including our passionate fans, players and staff, and we are thankful to them, our television partners, and the many Americans who rallied to the XFL for the love of football”.
The league had played just five of 10 weeks of its regular season and was in preparation for Week Six, even looking to move on ahead with playing to empty stadiums if necessary, but by the time the weekend arrived, it quickly became apparent—and legally necessary—to suspend the season.
At that time, they determined that they would not simply suspend the season but cancel its remainder entirely. They vowed that they would return in 2021, but obviously, the plan has changed since then. It’s an incredibly disappointing end to an ambitious dream.
Two decades ago, McMahon kicked off the first incarnation of the XFL, a raucous and more energetic brand of football that was nonetheless clouded by gimmicks, much in the spirit of his own primary enterprise, the professional wrestling venture, World Wrestling Entertainment.
While that failed after its initial season, his dream remained, and he planned to resurrect it in a much more serious and practical light. On paper, it seemed as though things were going according to plan. He brought in credible people to build the league from the ground up, and since he was the financial backer, money would not be the issue, as it was for last year’s Alliance of American Football.
It was reported that he had withdrawn funds of his own holdings to carry the league through at least three seasons. Given that he has had the league’s parent company filed for bankruptcy after failing to complete one year, one does have to wonder how willing he would have been to go ahead with a second season even if the first year had been completed.